Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, NC, won the $5,000 3'3” NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay, on Thursday, August 3, during the fifth week of competition at the six-week Vermont Summer Festival, running through August 13 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Course designer Gerry Briggs of Smyrna, TN, set the track which spanned two competition rings and utilized both hunter-style fences as well as traditional derby jumps. Chopping, originally from Canada, posted a score of 88 in the first round riding Gold Rush.
“This track was very fair and appropriate,” said Chopping of Briggs’ course. “I think it is really fantastic how they use both rings and much more interesting than just jumping in one. As for the footing, considering the rain we had yesterday and the amount of water that fell, you wouldn’t have been able to jump the next day at some places. But, we were back out here this morning at six and it was just fine.”
From an original starting field of 48 entries, the top 12 horse-rider combinations following the opening round returned for the handy round, judged by Richard Slocum of Wellington, FL Staying consistent, Chopping and Gold Rush collected another 88 to earn a final score on 176 for the win.
Megan Young of Jacksonville, FL, piloted Cesar de Lison Z to scores of 86 and 89 to finish one point behind Chopping on a 175 for second place. Amateur rider Olivia Bloch of New Rochelle, NY, combined scores of 85 and 87 riding Stellar to earn a total score of 172 and place third. Bloch also accepted the high-point amateur award during the award ceremony. Sixteen-year-old Carson Ruff of Jackson, MO, posted scores of 83.75 and 84 riding Balletomane for a 167.75 final score to finish in fourth and collect the high-point junior award. Rounding out the top five, Lila Ouellette of Shelburne, VT, settled on a total of 165.25 after earning an 84.25 and 81 riding King of Hearts.
Chopping has had the ride on Gold Rush, a seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding sired by Gold Luck and owned by Doreen Schlicht, for two years and also competes the mount in the Green Hunter division.
“We did the division this week and I thought the experience of going around a derby, regardless of the height, would be good for him,” said Chopping, who is based at his own Solo Show Stables in Southern Pines, NC. “It asked a lot of questions to the horses and for him to come out and get it all right both times is a nice feeling.”
Of Gold Rush’s strengths, Chopping noted, “He is so brave; that horse will jump anything. I didn’t do any derby warm up and kept those jumps completely new and fresh for him and he never spooked, made a mistake, or failed me once. He is very straightforward that way.”
Chopping has not shown at the Vermont Summer Festival since 2004 and returned this year for the final two weeks of competition with 11 horses. He finished third in the $10,000 Brooks Brothers Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, earlier in the day on Thursday and has horses competing in all rings from equitation, to professional hunters, and children’s jumpers.
“Normally we would be somewhere a little further south at this time, but I wanted to do something different,” said Chopping. “My memory of the mountains, the great restaurants, and all the things you can do outside the horse show gave me confidence that the clients would like it. All of those activities are the extra things that people enjoy.”
In addition to his share of the prize money and a monogrammed winner’s scrim from Mona’s Monograms, Chopping was presented with a Land Rover Experience Driving School off-road excursion by class sponsor, Eastern Hay.
Hunter derby competition reaches its peak during the sixth and final week of the Vermont Summer Festival when the $15,000 3'3” NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Land Rover Experience, takes the stage on Thursday, August 10.
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont for great competition in an ideal summer setting. Offering more than $750,000 in prize money over the course of its six-week run, the Vermont Summer Festival is New England’s largest hunter/jumper competition as well as the state’s richest sporting event based on purse. Outside the show ring, exhibitors are immersed in the charm of Vermont's shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.
Competition at the 2017 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children with 100% of all gate proceeds benefiting the Manchester Community Library, Meals on Wheels of Bennington County, and the Rotary Club of Manchester.
For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
$5,000 3'3" NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay
Thursday, August 3
Rider Hometown Horse Scores
1. Harold Chopping Southern Pines, NC Gold Rush 88+88=176
2. Megan Young Jacksonville, FL Cesar de Lison Z 86+89=175
3. Olivia Bloch New Rochelle, NY Stellar 85+87=172
4. Carson Ruff Jackson, MO Balletomane 83.75+84=167.75
5. Lila Ouellette Shelburne, VT King of Hearts 84.25+81=165.25
6. Cory Hardy Littleton, MA Teddy 79+86=165
7. Meghan Kaupp Pittsford, NY Sansouci 82+82.75=164.75
8. Julia O’Neil Rehoboth, MA Camaro M 89+75=164
9. Gabriella Fournier Rochester, NY Cinderella Man 82.5+81=163.5
10. Rebekah Chenelle Hebron, CT LI Bond 78.5+82.5=161
11. Shaine Brooks Poestenkill, NY Justified 77.75+80=157.75
12. Katie Hession Sudbury, MA Ilyana 78+64=142